Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentines Times Two

Will there ever be an end to the confusion of grief?

Today I awoke to a wonderful text from a wonderful man asking me to be his Valentine? I slept last night in this man's sweatshirt that smells like him, and every time I woke up I would thank God for sending me Practice (a name I will explain in a bit.)

I texted him back and replied that I will be his Valentine for always and forever and then . . . the tears began to stream . . . a trickle at first and then the dam broke! Cry and cry and cry! And then I remembered that last year I took a rose out to the grave and that this year I should probably do that, too. More tears!

I really thought this Valentine's Day would be filled with all joy. You see, I am just so thankful to our sweet Lord for His grace and kindness in bringing the kids and I Practice. Last Valentine's Day - my first without Chad and in the darkest days of my grief (four months after Chad's death) - was HORRIBLE!!!!! Absolutely terrible. Add insult to injury, I was working at a flower shop and was filling out cards to 'lovebirds' all day (PUKE!)

So, as the anticipation of this holiday has approached, it has not been with fear and trembling . . . but with gratefulness in my heart to God, and Practice. You see, I was not expecting this. In fact, I wasn't looking for it and I wasn't even sure I wanted it. I knew that to fall in love again would mean having to trust that my heart would not be ripped in two again. I had gotten myself to a place in the grieving process where I knew I was o.k. as ME. I didn't NEED anyone. The kids and I were operating in our 'new normal' (again, PUKE!) and I wasn't sure I wanted to put my heart out there knowing that if I fall in love again there are no guarantees that he won't die too. In fact, (I'm sure you are all smiling!) the guarantee is just the opposite . . . yep! At some point this one will die, too!

Then a friend asked me if I would be willing to try a blind date. Sure. Why not. I needed some practice if I was going to get back out there. I thought having someone to go to dinner with, or chat with at the end of the day, or go to a movie with would be fun.

Enter ‘Practice.’ (His real name is Jim, by the way.) He lives about 35 minutes from me and is a farmer. I know, I know . . . we ALL thought I would find some metro-sexual musician from Nashville, didn’t we? He is divorced (a biblical divorce on his end, for those of you already beginning to look down the end of your noses) with three children. Well, I had already informed the Lord (not long after Chad died) that I did NOT want a divorced man with three kids! Too much baggage! (Like I don’t come with an entire entourage of baggage . . . nice, Sarah!) And a farmer? They still have those these days! Yes, I can be a real, stuck-up snot sometimes. My pastor looked at me before this date and said, “Sarah! Farmers are wonderful people and they are VERY smart.” (He was right!)

So, I truly went on that first date just for practice. What I was NOT expecting was to fall in love.

Let’s be real now, folks. The first thing I noticed about Practice were his looks. (Maybe I should just leave it at that and let you figure out if they were good or bad . . . Nah!) I had certainly never been on a blind date and truly the most nerve wracking part of it was having NO idea what he looked like. Of course, there are pictures of me everywhere . . . so Practice knew what he was getting when he called to ask me out. He told me that he is bald and a mutual friend had informed me that he ‘wears it well.’ I had NO idea what to expect. Well, let me just tell you . . . he wears it VERY well. Practice is VERY good looking AND, this is girl talk now . . . guess what? When he took his coat off at dinner he had a short sleeve shirt on and guess what was under those short sleeves? VERY nice biceps :-) Well, I noticed those RIGHT off but tried hard not to let on.

And then this wonderful thing happened . . . we started to talk. We talked and talked and talked and talked and talked and haven’t stopped since. Some nights we talk on the phone for three or four hours. We are both exhausted because with six kids between us and two full-time jobs the only time to talk is late at night. A sacrifice I am willing to make :-).

The truth is . . . that not long after we started dating I began to realize that Practice had all of the qualities that I had been praying for since Chad died. Honestly, and I do mean honestly . . . I did not think I would ever find them again. Not all in one package. I thought I would have to compromise. I had had the very best already, and I was not willing to compromise, so I just figured I would be alone.

This week, as I was working on writing the book, I was reading through my journals. In December of 2007, just about eight weeks after Chad died I cried out to Chad in my despair and asked him to please send us someone who would love us. Someone who would love the WHOLE package . . . me, the kids, the ministry, AND our memories of Chad. Then I made a list and asked Chad to work with God to find this man. Practice has EVERY thing on the list! God is truly amazing!

On our first date, Practice looked at me during those hours and hours of talking and said, “I want you to know if we continue to date, that I understand that a part of your heart will always belong to Chad and that I will never try to change that or take that away.” I know that I began to fall in love with him right then and there.

He is kind and loving and wise and smart (yes, there is a difference between wise and smart!) He is a very good daddy and has wisdom in how he handles his babies and all that they have been through. He loves God and loves Christian music . . . especially this local girl from Midland now, I guess :-). And, have I mentioned the biceps?

Here we go, now. Here is me, being transparent with you . . . I was NOT prepared for how hard this would be! Practice has put a beaming, happy smile back in some deep, dark places. Places that I didn’t know if I would ever feel life in again. But the truth is . . . everyone says ‘just have fun.’ Well, that’s great when you are 17 or 20. That is when most people date, you know. A large part of those reading this blog probably dated when they were young and hopefully, will never have to date again. Well, let me tell you . . . this is NOT fun! You see, I am a wife. It is very deeply who I am. I was a good wife, a great one, maybe, and I loved every minute of it. I know how to do it! To now have to go back and be a girlfriend is both frustrating and painful. You see, I know what it is to lie in a man’s arms all night long. To be held and caressed and snuggled so close. And now, night after night we must say goodbye and leave one another’s arms. That hurts.

One of the most fascinating parts of all of this is that I am finding that the ‘wife’ parts of me that died the day Chad died are coming back to life. I want to cook for him and clean his house and help him plan birthday parties and . . . I want to pray and pray and pray for him (the MOST important role of a wife, by the way.) It is clear to me . . . and perhaps a discussion for a different blog . . . that there IS a distinction between wife and mother. While they may go hand in hand, they are two VERY different roles.

Oh, don’t get me wrong . . . it is fun! Today we get to spend the entire day together and I absolutely cannot wait! All EIGHT of us. The six kids and Jim and I. (His kids are wonderful, by the way.) How wonderful! The kids adore one another. We continue to pray that God will lead and guide and direct us and that He will continue to confirm all of this through these precious children . . . and He does.

But dating at 37 and 34 with six children watching every move . . . six children who, themselves, have all been through enormous hurt and upheaval in their lives . . . is not fun . . . it is terrifying! There is no ‘manual’ written on how to do this (please don’t start sending me books . . . I don’t have time to read. I would be open to the Cliff’s Note version via e-mail, though :-)) As a mama and a daddy – our hearts long to do this right so that we make this as easy as we can for the babies. There is nothing ‘normal’ about ‘us.’ We are not 20 year olds trying to find our way through college and wondering who to go to the next big game with. We are thirty-somethings with kids and careers and our own homes we are trying to maintain and extensive friendships and the list can go on and on.

And then add into it . . . Chad. My beloved. And on this Valentine’s Day 2009 . . . I am SO very, very thankful that there is a new smile in my heart named Practice . . . but at the moment that Practice texted me at 6:38 this morning and asked me to be his Valentine . . . the tears began to roll. The reality is, I will NEVER stop grieving Chad. No matter who or what comes into my life. No matter what joys come in the future . . . Practice was right, back on that first date . . . There IS a part of my heart that will always belong to Chad. It will always mourn the loss of what I THOUGHT was going to be my life. I am thankful for hope and new beginnings, but I will always be sad for what ISN’t. It is all very confusing deep inside. How can I weep for one man and long to be in the arms of another?

Practice called, and I was crying, and he listened and loved on me and told me he’ll get here just as soon as he can . . . and the truth is . . . today, I think I get to have TWO Valentine’s . . . one here on Earth . . . and one in Heaven. I love you, Practice! I love you, Chad!


Karen said...

I am so glad that your heart is happy. Enjoy! (it's still okay to grieve. Would we really be women if our emotions weren't a little "unique" sometimes?)

blessings this valentine's day...

Anonymous said...

Oh, Sarah. I am so happy for you to have found Practice. Sounds like you practiced so much, you got it right! I had a teacher who used to tell us, "Perfect practice makes perfect." LOL, that is all I could think about as I read this post. It makes my heart smile to see you healing and the kids healing...yes, even tears are healing. I love you guys and I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Ginger said...

Well, you made me cry this time. I am SO happy for you and Jim. Can't wait to meet him - what a nice name! I was thinking of you and Chad this morning. I was in my boys bedroom and on the dresser was one of Chad's police trading cards. I looked at it and thought of how much has happened and how far you have come and how Chad would be happy that you are moving on and finding love again. I hope you have a fabulous Valentines Day!
Love, Ginger

Anonymous said...

Isn't our God ...amazing,awesome,incredible,etc,etc.etc.We are extremely happy for you Sarah.
Love & blessings,

P.S.Does Jim fish?

Jen said...

Oh Sarah I am so glad that God brought such a sweet love to your life. He wants and needs you as much as you want and need him. I'm sure Chad is giddy with the huge smile on your face after all this time!

Paula S said...

Yes, I am crying too. Crying with you....rejoicing with you....both at once. Can't wait to meet Jim!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad God sent you Practice. I have a friend going through her first V-Day alone, after losing her husband. Ya'll have to be some of the strongest women out there. But you're right - God gave you 2 Valentine's.

Sarah Taylor said...

So beautifully written.

Cibele said...

I am so happy for you. I just
"lost" my husband... not like you did, mine chose to leave me and our baby ( 9 month old after trying to have her for almost 3 years). Being his wife it is all I know and my heart is broken in million pieces. I pray that our marriage can be restored but it is in God's hands. I am afraid that I will never be loved again, that I will never be somebody's Valentine again... My sister lost her husband in an accident 4 years ago. She found another wonderful man that also accepted the fact that her first husband will forever be one of the loves of her life. God words In mysterious waya

Sarah Schieber said...

Cibele - my sweet sister in Christ - hang in there. Truly, just hang on by a thread today if that is all you can do. You only have to have a TINY mustard seed of faith . . . God will do the rest. Practice has been where you are at . . . keep trusting the Lord, bury yourself in His word . . . He is faithful!

I am lifting you in prayer today!

Cibele said...

Thank you so much.Prayers are greatly appreciate it, I have days like today that is hard to put the strong face and function as if life is still normal. being "single" again is so hard, is so lonely... I am holding on to my faith knowing that God is my father and He will never forsake me. it is a constant struggle though , it is very hard not to ask why????? but I choose to trust in God's wisdom. I have a private blog that I would like to ask you to read if you have time. Please send me an e-mail at cibelesec at hotmail dot com . your life has been an inspiration fro me and my heart fills with joy to see you and practice happy again.

Abner & Jennie said...

HI Sarah,
I just found your blog and am amazed at how faithful God has been to you and how He's allowing you to heal. Your words are so full of grace and are an example to us all. But, to me in a way that I will try to be a more godly wife to the husband I've been given for as long as God allows.
May He richly bless you and your new relationship as it grows, and continue to bring healing and peace!
-Jennie in CA

Carrie said...

Ha Ha! Practice must have had a cold 35 minute ride home with out his sweatshirt…tsk tsk :)